The Fate of Legal Abortion
There are few issues more divisive than abortion. Vitriolic rhetoric denouncing Planned Parenthood is part of a larger agenda: eliminating legal access to abortion. The historic 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision declared: “We recognize the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwanted government intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the right of a woman to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” Since then there has been a sustained campaign, including threats and attacks on doctors and nurses, the defunding and closing of clinics, to reverse Roe v. Wade. In some states, restrictive legislation has effectively criminalized abortion. What will happen if legal abortions are banned? Women will turn to quacks and the days of back alley abortions, botched procedures and clothes hangars will be back.
Katha Pollitt, an award-winning essayist, poet and critic, is best known for her column “Subject to Debate” in The Nation magazine. She is the author of Virginity or Death! and Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. She is the recipient of a National Book Critics Circle Award for her volume of poetry, Antarctic Traveller.